It might not be a message that parents of AAA hockey talent in Canada would want to read, but it is certainly a message that needs to be shared.
Sudbury native and longtime senior editor at The Hockey News, Ken Campbell has recently released the book, “Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids Are Paying the Price for our National Obsession”.
Campbell will be in town next March 14 for a book signing at Chapters on the Kingsway from 7-9 p.m.
“This book takes a very candid and stark look at the downsides of making so many sacrifices to chase a dream that, in the vast majority of cases, isn't a realistic one for players,” Campbell noted in recent email correspondence.
“Despite almost insurmountable odds, families are willing to go to almost any length to produce a player capable of playing in the NHL, or major junior, or college hockey, where they can earn back their 'investment' in the form of a paid education,” noted Campbell.
Little surprise that the controversial report has garnered some very high-profile support. Nationally acclaimed journalist and author Roy MacGregor referred to it as, “the most important book on minor hockey the game has ever known. Selling the dream should be mandatory reading at registration.”
A hockey enthusiast who first donned the skates at Rosemarie Playground in New Sudbury, Campbell did not set out to extinguish that flame of hope that so much of the young Canadian hockey talent feel as they hit the ice, over and over again, in their youth.
“This is not a book about killing dreams,” said Campbell. “We all have them. A world without dreams would be a dreary place indeed. But somewhere along the lines, the dream has lost its purity.”
The book, which covers the very detailed stories of 10 different hockey families, includes a Northern Ontario component that is quite familiar for anyone who has followed the game, on a local level, for the past three to four decades.
Minor hockey prodigies Pierre Dupuis (Sudbury) and Mitchell Davis (North Bay) share their memories and the challenges they both faced with expectations that spiralled completely out of control.
Though the book appears to be gaining legs in various minor hockey circles, Campbell remains cautiously optimistic.
“In some ways, I fear the people who would most benefit from the message will ignore it,” he said.
“I hope that's not the case.”